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Show and Tell: 'Luzia' Is a South-of-the-border Spectacular

Cirque du Soleil's latest features eye-popping acrobatics and dancing armadillos

Published on: April 03, 2017

Photo credit : Laurence Labat / Costumes: Giovanna Buzzi / 2016 Cirque du Soleil
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Photo credit : Laurence Labat / Costumes: Giovanna Buzzi / 2016 Cirque du Soleil

Where else but at a Cirque du Soleil show would you see the fastest five-club juggler in the world backed by music from marimba-playing crocodiles?

Mother's Day discount!

Want to take Mom to Luzia this Mother's Day? We got a tip that they're offering 20 percent off tickets. Offer ends May 14.

Welcome to the fully immersive, technicolor fantasy world of Luzia — a hybrid of luz (light) and lluvia (rain) — inspired by Mexico’s varied cultures, history and mythology. The Seattle show at Marymoor Park, opened last week and runs through May 21; the world tour launched last spring in Cirque’s home base of Montreal. (Read our show preview and Q&A with Luzia acrobat and Seattle native Kelly McDonald.)

Luzia is the company’s first big top show to incorporate water: liquid standouts for my 11- and 14-year-old kids included a rain curtain that fell with shimmering shapes of birds, flowers and fish (draining into tiny holes on the stage surface); an aerialist performing on the straps dramatically dipping into and twirling above and around a cenote (a sink hole pool set in the stage) and communing with a surprisingly expressive, enormous jaguar puppet.

cirque water
Photo credit : Laurence Labat / Costumes: Giovanna Buzzi / 2016 Cirque du Soleil

It’s tough not to gush (no pun intended) over Cirque spectacles, which blend eye-popping acrobatic feats, live music, expert showmanship, wildly inventive costumes and props and humor. (The shows skip live animal acts and ruffled-collar clowns in favor of, say, a person costumed as a saguaro cactus with a not-so-subtle third appendage in the groin area saluting upward.) There are also dancing armadillos, monarch butterflies, cockroaches, snakes and grasshoppers. Oh, and mini robots with watering cans on their heads who looks to be sowing seeds in a field of marigolds.

Luzia’s story, such as it is, is more like a series of vignettes, connected by the wanderings of a hapless clown who parachutes into an ever-changing landscape and seems perpetually on the prowl for water to fill his canteen. Acrobatics include hoop divers dressed as hummingbirds on a moving treadmill; McDonald’s act, where she is literally tossed in the air (and swung like a jump rope) by three burly men; a Cyr wheel and trapeze against a backdrop of agave plants and a giant golden sun; and hand balancing on canes nearly 20 feet above the stage. Plus juggling, a jaw-dropping male contortionist, and pole dancing.

Luzia’s performers make their feats look easy. But the last act before the finale reminded us that they’re anything but. We watched a performer land flat on her back attempting a high-flying move in a dramatic swing-to-swing act; she was carted off stage by the show’s emergency team. (Cirque officials later said she had a “hard landing” but did not require hospitalization and would return to the show when ready.)

Parent tips

We saw lots of captivated kids — plenty of toddlers among them — at the 8 p.m. Seattle premiere we attended. Kids at any age can enjoy this colorful, lighthearted, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-of-it show. My fifth grader and eighth grader were unabashedly riveted. But weighing the performance’s length and relatively spendy tickets, I probably wouldn’t take the youngest children.

While the big top is heated, the bathrooms (including a few family bathrooms with changing tables) are outside, so nab your jacket for the lines at intermission. No strollers in the big top. There's plenty of merch if you want to drop more cash on items like an admittedly adorable $20 kid T-shirt sporting a shiny lucha libre mask. Pricey circus snacks are available (popcorn, hot dogs, soft pretzels, candy, soda), plus beer and wine for the adults.

If you go …

Where and when:  Luzia will spend its run — through May 21 — under the big top at King County’s Marymoor Park in Redmond, with both matinee and evening performances. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. (no Tuesday show the last week of April or last week of the show’s run in May); Friday 8 p.m. (with 4 p.m. shows the first and last weeks in April and the last week of the show’s run in May); Saturday 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Length: The show runs two hours and five minutes, including a 25-minute intermission.

Age: Cirque calls Luzia a “family-friendly” show but offers no age recommendations. We saw nothing blatantly scary or inappropriate in the performance. (That said, younger circus-goers might need a heads-up that it can get very dark inside the big top between acts.)

Tickets: Buy tickets online or at 1-877-924-7783. Prices fluctuate; Cirque uses demand-based pricing (meaning the earlier you buy, the lower price you’ll probably get). The website advertises prices from $35 “while quantities last.” A quick search at press time showed lowest-priced tickets around $44 (with prime tickets well over $100.) Kids ages 2-12 get $10 off per ticket (select during check-out after picking seats online); kids under 2 are free if seated on parent’s lap. The “family pack” gives a 20 percent discount for a minimum of 3 and maximum of 8 tickets, available for non-weekend performances.

Parking: $15 per vehicle (credit cards accepted, though the cash line seemed to move quicker.) Give yourself plenty of time to park and layer up; it can be a pretty long walk to the big top. (Note: A small playground between the parking area and the big top, near the velodrome fence, offers kids a spot to burn some energy pre- or post-show).

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